At least seven people were killed and several others injured in an attack on a madrasa at Rohingya camp in Ukhiya Upazila of Cox’s Bazar on early Friday.
Superintendent of Police Shihab Kaiser Khan, also the commander of Armed Police Battalion-8, said the incident took place around 4:00am at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama Al-Islamiyah.
A gang of Rohingya assailants attacked the madrasa, located at Balukhali camp-18, leaving four people dead on the spot and several others injured, he said. Members of Moynarghona police camp-12 rescued the injured and sent them to the local camp hospital, where three other Rohingyas succumbed to their injuries.
Police identified the deceased as Azizul Haq, 22, Ibrahim, 17, Md Amin, 30, Md Idris, 32, Nur Alim, 45, Hamidullah, 50, and Nur Kayser, 15 – all of them residents of Balukhali Rohingya camp.
Police detained one of the attackers, identified as Mujib, with a locally-made gun, six bullets, and a knife, Khan said, adding that a drive was underway to arrest others involved in the attack.
The latest incident of violence took place just three weeks after assailants gunned down Rohingya leader Mohibullah, head of Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights (ARSPH), at his office at Kutupalang camp in Ukhiya on September 29.
A serious tension lingers within the camps since Mohibullah’s murder, Kyaw Min, a leader of ARSPH told AFP in a recent interview.
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than a million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in camps in Cox’s Bazar and the Bhasan Char island.
A prominent Rohingya expatriate who knew the madrassa teachers blamed ARSA for the shooting, saying the school had refused to pay the group.
“Since last year, ARSA has ordered all madrassas to pay them Tk 10,000 a month and every teacher Tk 500 a month. But the madrassa which was attacked today refused,” he told the AFP.
Activists say there is fear of more violence in the camps.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement this month that at least a dozen activists have approached the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, since the killing of Mohibullah.
Family members and other civil society leaders who had been threatened by militants have already been shifted to safe locations by the authorities, they told AFP.
Threat to regional security
Often described as “one of the most discriminated people in the world”, members of this ethnic minority have previously come to Bangladesh in 1978-79, 1991-92 and 1996 for similar reasons.
Members of the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority migrated to other countries since the 1970s in large numbers. Before the 2017 crisis, thousands of them had fled the country to escape persecution or abuses by the security forces.
In August 2017, Myanmar claimed that it was responding to insurgent attacks on its police posts and an army base.
People feeling the violent crackdown reported murder, rape, torture, loot and arson – charges the Myanmar authorities denied. The UN described the violence as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing with genocidal content”. Aung San Suu Kyi, once a human rights icon, repeatedly denied allegations of genocide.
More than 7,50,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh at that time. They joined around 3,00,000 people already in Bangladesh from previous waves of displacement, according to Unicef.
Last year, Save the Children said 76,000 babies were born in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps in three years.
Many Rohingya people have gotten involved in crimes such as murder, extortion, abduction and narcotics smuggling into the camps.
Bangladesh has been saying that the presence of this huge number of Rohingya is posing a major challenge not just to the security of Bangladesh but also the whole region.
Some activists blamed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) for the killing, though the armed group denied involvement. ARSA is accused of being behind attacks on Myanmar security forces in 2017 that triggered a violent military clampdown and a mass exodus into Bangladesh by 740,000 Rohingya.